Viral Banksy Quote on Advertising Plagiarizes 1999 Zine Essay


"People are taking the piss out of you everyday," begins "Banksy on Advertising." The four-paragraph quote has been widely distributed on Twitter and Tumblr, with attribution given to the elusive (and still anonymous) artist Banksy.

The problem, as graphic designer and writer Sean Tejaratchi points out, is that the quote borrows heavily from Tejaratchi's essay "Death, Phones, Scissors," which was published in his Crap Hound zine back in 1999. While Banksy's first paragraph is original, the rest of his quote shows significant similarities to Tejaratchi's piece, including some direct repetition.

And there's no denying a connection. The Banksy quote comes from his 2004 book Cut It Out. While Tejaratchi and his publication are not directly credited, the back cover of the now out-of-print book reveals Banksy's "influences," including Crap Hound.

In an email, Tejaratchi explained his position, noting that he was never informed that his work or Crap Hound in general was used in Banksy's book.

Banksy's not psychic. He had no way of knowing that quote would be distributed in 2012. But all confusion could have been completely avoided by including an attribution in his book, or at very least letting me know it had served as inspiration. Nothing clears things up like clarity.

Although Tejaratchi is glad to see the quote discussed across the internet, he is, of course, dismayed by Banksy receiving all the recognition. That frustration is compounded by the fact that a reprint of the Crap Hound issue with his essay is due out in two months. "My essay will have appeared to swipe from Banksy," Tejaratchi wrote.

Tejaratchi has tried to contact Banksy via numerous outlets, but like so many before him, has been unable to get in touch with the anonymous artist. Tejaratchi explains in his blog post that he is not looking for monetary compensation or legal retribution, but rather credit for his writing.

My goal is to set the record straight online. There will be no lawyers or threats of legal action. I've tried not to jump to conclusions, or angrily denounce Banksy, or the Internet, or the terrible unfairness of the universe. Maybe a ghostwriter was responsible for lifting it. Maybe an attribution was lost in layout.

It probably goes without saying that Banksy was unavailable for comment.